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Bus Story: Riders with Riders

It’s a small. Lilliputian, really. So much so, I thought I had a smudge on my glasses rather than seeing what I’m seeing.

The backdrop for this smallness is an average sized gent, wearing all black, including a fedora. The hat, to be honest, is no longer really black, but has taken so much of the world onto its crown and brim, that it is the color of rich, nutrient-filled soil. The man is puffy in countenance, as if stuffed with something mushy, like oatmeal or over cooked risotto.  His unwashed light brown hair drapes from under his hat, reaching and cascading over his hunched shoulders. And his mud colored eyes are small and disturbing as they look upon the ridership with a vacant, almost hungry gaze.

Tucked into the wide ribbon band encircling the hat is the aforementioned very small being. Roughly speaking, it’s human shaped. It has a head, a torso, two arms, and two legs. But that’s where the similarities end. The head and face are more like burls and knots in a tree trunk, and the appendages at the ends of the teensy arms are curled and wicked looking. I can hear it, quietly singing to the man, despite there not being any sort of mouth.

People think gnomes are cute. They dress them in frippery and cast them in plaster for their gardens. But the gnomes from deep within the earth are cunning and malicious. And their golem-lore, the ability to craft large, soulless beings to do their dark bidding, is vast and truly frightening to behold. 

Bus Story: Cost of Goods Sold

His salt-and-pepper hair lays in tight curls on his head, slightly thinning towards the middle. Dressed for office work, his pale green shirt is as neatly ironed as it is well-worn. With a tremor in his hands, he removes his watch from his wrist and stares at it.  It’s a silver Timex, new and shiny; it stands out when compared to the rest of his accoutrements. He looks at it expectantly, as if it might speak. Then, with a deep sigh, he pulls the winding pin out and begins to turn the hands of the watch backwards. Ever so slowly, he spins the tiny knob and the silvery timepiece complies, counterclockwise. The tremor in his hands diminish, almost imperceptibly. The lines on his face fade, ever so, and his hair fills in and darkens. With a click, he pushes the winding pin back into the watch. Suddenly, he is wracked with pain, and breaks into a coughing fit. After it subsides, he dabs his nose with a handkerchief and it comes away with droplets of blood. I don’t know what, exactly, he put up for collateral when he borrowed that watch, but it appears that the price for turning back the hands of time is coming due.

Sidewalk Story: Karma Kick

Guy with baggy pants around his thighs ridicules an overweight woman to his companion about the “ridiculousness” of the unfortunate woman’s walk. And then, as he runs/waddles to catch a bus, he falls flat on his face in the street. The Universe can often be capricious and cruel. But, sometimes, it gets the concept of justice exactly right.

Bus Story: A Much Needed Arrival

It’s a late morning ride into downtown and the bus smells like wet dog and disappointment. Heads are low, and a chorus of sighs bounce around the caravan, as contagious as yawning. Her heels announced her arrival. With the distinctive tread of knee-high leather boots sporting four-inch heels, she climbs aboard and walks the aisle like a catwalk in Milan. Her eyes, the color of ancient amber, never stray from her forward gaze. In sharp contrast to the rest of the ridership, there is an optimistic determination in her face. A slight knowing smile graces her burgundy glossed lips. With a clickety-clack, her beaded auburn braids swirl about her, as she takes a seat, with all our eyes upon her. Like ripples in a stagnant pond, the riders closest to her relax a little and heads lift, ever so. Within moments, the entire bus feels lighter, less dread-filled, and riders look at the passing scenery, smile, and have a lighter step as they come and go.

Hope takes many forms. And some days, she’s a powerful woman with kick-ass boots, ready for anything.

Bus Story: Staring Down the Watery Light

We ride through the dark downpour. The heater is blasting throughout the metal caravan, which creates the feeling that one has a fever, rather than anything pleasant. It’s a crowded morning, full of dripping umbrellas and bleary-eyed riders. She is sitting in a bank of seats facing sideways, dressed all in white – coat, blouse, long skirt, and boots – and all of which has been splashed, hither and yon, with brackish water. Her straight, black hair shines with the damp as it cascades over the sullied, used-to-be-white shoulders of her coat. With eyes closed, her face is contorted into a visage of concern with furrowed brow and a tightening around her eyes and mouth. Her breathing is deep, like that of someone fast asleep. And then I see three others, similarly decked out in white, seeming to be deeply asleep sitting upright. They all appear to be engaged in some sort of struggle in their dreaming state. As the bus rolls past Puget Sound, the water churning with the onslaught of rain, all four of their struggles intensify, and, for a moment, I could see massive shapes out in the deep, dark waters struggling to emerge.  But they are kept at bay by something luminous and shimmering. It isn’t often that deep water demigods stir in their slumber and attempt to exert their influences beyond their watery homes, but when they do, it is good to know that a cadre of shamans are on the 120 to keep that particular door firmly locked.

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